Weidenfeld & Nicolson/Orion, 2012
The police immediately suspect Nick. Amy's friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn't true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they aren't his. And then there are the persistent calls on his mobile phone.
So what did really did happen to Nick's beautiful wife? And what was left in that half-wrapped box left so casually on their marital bed? In this novel, marriage truly is the art of war.
Trying to talk about Gone Girl is a bit like trying to talk about A Song of Ice and Fire with people who are a book or two behind you. You're desperate to analyse it, but you don't want to give anything away. This book kept me hooked from start to finish, to the point that I had a dream that I was suspected of murder and had to try and explain why I'd hidden the "evidence" in our paper recycling box. (I would be a rubbish criminal, evidently.)
Nick and Amy have been married for five years, and for the last year or two have been living in Missouri, where Nick grew up, after losing their jobs and leaving New York City. On the morning of their anniversary, Amy goes missing, and what follows is the police investigation, told from Nick's perspective, inter-cut with sections taken from Amy's diary. Through the two perspectives, you get a pretty brutal, intimate look at their marriage and the ways in which their relationship has developed over the last few years. Flynn does an excellent job of really pinpointing Nick and Amy's personalities and making them simultaneously aggravating, horrifying, and yet quite often sympathetic. It's difficult to like either of them a lot of time, but I found more than once that I was hoping for a particular outcome or sympathising with one over the other (only to change my mind later on!).
The book is in three sections, and the first two were totally compelling. The third section was a little stranger, and I felt a little bit more disconnected from this part. I struggled to understand the motivations of some of the characters, and while I think that this was probably an intentional move on Flynn's part, it felt like it dipped a little towards the end. This is a really minor quibble, though - Gone Girl is so tightly wound up and so intriguing throughout, with layer upon layer of mystery, that the whole thing was excellent, if more than a little disturbing at times.
Overall rating: 9/10
Book source: Borrowed from the library.